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Confession of Faith (1689)

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The Confession of Faith,[1][2] also called the Second London Baptist Confession, was written by Particular Baptists, who held to a Calvinistic soteriology in England to give a formal expression of their Christian faith from a Baptist perspective. Because it was adopted by the Philadelphia Association of Baptist Churches in the 18th century, it is also known as the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.[3] The Philadelphia Confession was a modification of the Second London Confession that added an allowance for singing of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs in the Lord's Supper and made optional the laying on of hands in baptism.[4]

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The confession was first published in London in 1677 under the title "A confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians, Baptized upon Profession of their Faith in London and the Country.[5] With an Appendix concerning Baptism."[3] It was based on the First London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644), Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), and the Savoy Declaration (1658) with modifications to reflect Baptist views on church organization and baptism.[3] The confession was published again, under the same title, in 1688 and 1689.[3][6]

The Act of Toleration passed in 1689 enabled religious freedom and plurality to co-exist alongside the established churches in England and Scotland. This official reprieve resulted in representatives from over 100 Particular Baptist churches to meet together in London from 3–12 September to discuss and endorse the 1677 document. Despite the fact that the document was written in 1677, the official preface to the document has ensured that it would be known as the "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith".[6]

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Savoy Declaration

Savoy Declaration

The Savoy Declaration is a Congregationalist confession of Faith. Its full title is A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practised in the Congregational Churches in England. It was drawn up in October 1658 by English Independents and Congregationalists meeting at the Savoy Hospital, London.

Ecclesiastical polity

Ecclesiastical polity

Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or of a Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of a church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity relates closely to ecclesiology, the study of doctrine and theology relating to church organization.



Baptism is a form of ritual purification—a characteristic of many religions throughout time and geography. In Christianity, it is a Christian sacrament of initiation and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water. It may be performed by sprinkling or pouring water on the head, or by immersing in water either partially or completely, traditionally three times, once for each person of the Trinity. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism according to the Trinitarian formula, which is done in most mainstream Christian denominations, is seen as being a basis for Christian ecumenism, the concept of unity amongst Christians. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. In certain Christian denominations, such as the Lutheran Churches, baptism is the door to church membership, with candidates taking baptismal vows. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion or religious liberty is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs, "the right not to profess any religion or belief", or "not to practise a religion".

Religious pluralism

Religious pluralism

Religious pluralism is an attitude or policy regarding the diversity of religious belief systems co-existing in society. It can indicate one or more of the following:Recognizing and tolerating the religious diversity of a society or country, promoting freedom of religion, and defining secularism as neutrality on issues of religion as opposed to opposition of religion in the public forum or public square that is open to public expression, and promoting friendly separation of religion and state as opposed to hostile separation or antitheism espoused by other forms of secularism. Any of several forms of religious inclusivism. One such worldview holds that one's own religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus acknowledges that at least some truths and true values exist in other religions. Another concept is that two or more religions with mutually exclusive truth claims are equally valid; this may be considered a form of either toleration or moral relativism. Perennialism or Traditionalism is the understanding that the exclusive claims of different religions turn out, upon closer examination, to be variations of universal truths that have been taught since time immemorial. Sometimes as a synonym for ecumenism, i.e., the promotion of some level of unity, co-operation, and improved understanding between different religions or different denominations within a single religion. As a term for the condition of harmonious co-existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations. As a social norm and not merely a synonym for religious diversity.



London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a 50-mile (80 km) estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The City of London, its ancient core and financial centre, was founded by the Romans as Londinium and retains its medieval boundaries. The City of Westminster, to the west of the City of London, has for centuries hosted the national government and parliament. Since the 19th century, the name "London" has also referred to the metropolis around this core, historically split between the counties of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent, and Hertfordshire, which since 1965 has largely comprised Greater London, which is governed by 33 local authorities and the Greater London Authority.


The confession consists of 32 chapters, as well as an introduction and a list of signatories.

  1. Of the Holy Scriptures
  2. Of God and the Holy Trinity
  3. Of God's Decree
  4. Of Creation
  5. Of Divine Providence
  6. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof
  7. Of God's Covenant
  8. Of Christ the Mediator
  9. Of Free Will
  10. Of Effectual Calling
  11. Of Justification
  12. Of Adoption
  13. Of Sanctification
  14. Of Saving Faith
  15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
  16. Of Good Works
  17. Of the Perseverance of the Saints
  18. Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
  19. Of the Law of God
  20. Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace
  21. Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
  22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
  23. Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
  24. Of the Civil Magistrate
  25. Of Marriage
  26. Of the Church
  27. Of the Communion of Saints
  28. Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper
  29. Of Baptism
  30. Of the Lord's supper
  31. Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
  32. Of the Last Judgment


  • The law's continued value - while Christ "abrogated" the Levitical ceremonial laws, the confession cites Christ to have "strengthened this obligation" which "for ever binds all."[7]
  • Forbids prayers for the departed whether faithful or damned[8]
  • Sabbatarianism - A weekly Sabbath day is prescribed and believed "to be continued to the end of the world" but a 7th year annual sabbath is ignored (cf. Lev. 25ff.)[9]
  • Marriage is a monogamous heterosexual ordinance.[10]
  • Intermarriage - Christians ought not intermarry with other religions, nor with any who believe "damnable heresies," but are to marry "in the Lord," and thereby not be "unequally yoked".[11]
  • Two church offices - 1.) "elders" (also called "bishops" or "pastors"); 2.) "deacons"[12]
  • Eternal torment[13]
  • An open view on the millennium, the confession does not espouse a particular view on the millennium (cf. chapter 32).[13]


Particular Baptists were quick to develop churches in colonial America, and in 1707 the Philadelphia Baptist Association was formed.[14] This association formally adopted the 1689 confession in 1742[14] after years of tacit endorsement by individual churches and congregational members. With the addition of two chapters (on the singing of psalms and the laying on of hands), it was retitled The Philadelphia Confession of Faith.[15] Further Calvinistic Baptist church associations formed in the mid-late 18th century adopted the confession as "The Baptist Confession".[16]

Current usage

Baptist churches around the world continue to subscribe to the 1689 Baptist Confession as the fullest statement of their beliefs. Many 1689 churches are listed in directories like the Reformed Wiki, the Farese Church Directory and the 1689 Church Directory.


Various attempts have been made to modernise the seventeenth-century language of the 1689 Baptist Confession. SM Houghton's A faith to Confess is an example of a fairly free modernisation. Jeremy Walker's Rooted and Grounded is an example of a light modernisation. A comparison from the first paragraph demonstrates this:

". . . which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased." (Banner of Truth, 1689)[17]

"And as the manner in which God formerly revealed His will has long ceased, the Holy Scripture becomes absolutely essential to men." (A Faith to confess, 1975)[18]

"This means that the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, because God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people have now ended." (Rooted and Grounded, 2021)[19]

Source: "Confession of Faith (1689)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 26th),

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  1. ^ The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Documents, Reformed
  2. ^ 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith . 1689 – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ a b c d Schaff, Philip (1877). "The Baptist Confession of 1688 (The Philadelphia Confession)". The Creeds of Christendom (entry). Vol. 3 - The Creeds of the Evangelical Protestant Churches. New York: Harper & Bros. pp. 651–. ISBN 978-1-61025-039-9.
  4. ^ Leonard, Bill J (2012). Baptists in America. ISBN 9780231501712.
  5. ^ James Leo Garrett, Baptist Theology: A Four-century Study, Mercer University Press, USA, 2009, p. 72
  6. ^ a b J. Gordon Melton, Faiths Across Time, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2014, p. 1258
  7. ^ "The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 19 Of the Law of God, Paragraph 3, 5".
  8. ^ "Chapter 22 of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day, Paragraph 4".
  9. ^ "Chapter 22 of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day, Paragraph 7".
  10. ^ "Chapter 25 of Marriage, Paragraph 1".
  11. ^ "Chapter 25 of Marriage, Paragraph 3".
  12. ^ "1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 26 Of the Church, Paragraph 9, 11".
  13. ^ a b "The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 32 Of the Last Judgement, Paragraph 2". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  14. ^ a b Reid, DG; Linder, RD; Shelley, BL; Stout, HS (1990), Dictionary of Christianity in America, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  15. ^ "The Philadelphia Confession of Faith". The Spurgeon Archive. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  16. ^ William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia - Volume 2, The Baptist Standard Bearer, USA, 2001, p. 573
  17. ^ The Baptist Confession of Faith.
  18. ^ "SGCB | A FAITH TO CONFESS: The 1689 London Baptist Confession in Modern English". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  19. ^, Thought Collective. "Rooted and Grounded by Jeremy Walker". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
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